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GOOD FRIDAY (SAMYA MUKHERJEE) Good Friday is a one of the day in the holy week of the Christian calendar, commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus and his death at Cavalry. Additionally, the Five Holy Wounds that Christ sustained during the crucifixion, represents the purchase of our healing and salvation. According to historical evidence, Jesus died on 14 Nisan, 3793 anno mundi – Friday, April 3, AD 33 at about 3 PM, a few hours before the beginning of Passover day and the Sabbath. Thus, Good Friday is observed as a part of the ‘Paschal Triduum’; it is also known as ‘Holy Friday’, ‘Great Friday’, ‘Great and Holy Friday’ and ‘Black Friday’. In the Church calendar, ‘Good Friday’ is the Friday that precedes Easter Sunday and is the day when Christians remember the death of Jesus by crucifixion. This Friday is called ‘Good’ by Christians because they believe the death of Jesus made it possible for human sin to be forgiven. The actual date of Good Friday varies from one year to the next on both the Gregorian and Julian calendars. Eastern and Western Christianity disagree over the computation of the date of Easter and therefore of Good Friday. Good Friday is a widely instituted legal holiday around the world, including in most Western countries and 12 US states. Members of many Christian denominations including the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, Anglican, Methodist, Oriental Orthodox and Reformed traditions observe Good Friday with fasting and church services. In many Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican and Methodist churches – the Service of the Great Three Hours’ Agony is held from noon until 3PM, the timeduration that the Bible records as darkness covering the land to Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross. Communications of the Moravian 2 Church have a Good Friday tradition of cleaning gravestones in Moravian cemeteries. ‘Good Friday’ comes from an obsolete sense pious, holy of the word ‘good’. Less common examples of the expressions based on this obsolete sense of ‘good’ include the ‘the good book’ for the Bible, ‘good tide’ for Christmas or Shrovetide, and Good Wednesday for the Wednesday in the Holy week according to Christian calendar. A common folk etymology incorrectly analyzes ‘Good Friday’ as a corruption of ‘God Friday’ similar to the linguistically correct descriptions of ‘Good bye’ as a contraction of ‘God be with you’. In Old English, the day was called ‘Long Friday’ and equivalents of this term are still used in Scandinavian languages and Finnish language. According to the accounts in the ‘Bible’, ‘Crucifixion’ is execution by nailing or binding a person to a cross. It was a practice which was used frequently in the Roman Empire and was one of the most painful and degrading forms of capital punishment in the ancient world. Christians believe that the crucifixion of Jesus (John 19:17-18), recorded in all four Gospels, made salvation available to humankind (John 3:16-17). It is known from Bible that the royal soldiers, guided by Jesus’ disciple Judas Iscariot, arrested Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. Judas received money (30 pieces of silver) for betraying Jesus and told the guards that whomever he kisses is the one they are to arrest. Following His arrest, Jesus was taken to the house of Annas, the father-in-law of the high priest, Caiaphas. There Jesus was interrogated with little result and sent bound to Calaphas (the high priest), where the Sanhedrin had assembled. Conflicting testimony against Jesus, was brought forth by many witnesses, to which Jesus answered nothing. Finally the high priest adjured Jesus to respond 3 under solemn oath saying, “I adjure you, by the Living God, to tell us are you the Anointed One, the Son of God?” Jesus testified ambiguously, “You have said it, and in time you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of the Almighty, coming on the clouds of Heaven”. The high priest condemned Jesus for blasphemy and the Sanhedrin concurred with a sentence of death. Peter, waiting in the courtyard, also denied Jesus three times to bystanders while the interrogations were proceeding just as Jesus had foretold. In the morning, the whole assembly brought Jesus to the Roman governor Pontius Pilate under charges of subverting the nation, opposing taxes to Caesar, and making himself a king. Pilate authorized the Jewish leaders to judge Jesus according to their own law and execute sentencing; however the Jewish leaders replied that they were not allowed by the Romans to carry out a sentence of death. Pilate questioned Jesus and told the assembly that there was no basis for sentencing. Upon learning that Jesus was from Galilee, Pilate referred the case to the ruler of Galilee (King Herod), who was in Jerusalem for the Passover Feast. Herod questioned Jesus but received nothing, then Herod sent Jesus back to Pilate. Pilate told the assembly that neither he nor Herod found Jesus to be guilty; Pilate resolved to have Jesus whipped and released. Under the guidance of the chief priests, the crowd asked for Barabbas, who had been imprisoned for committing murder during an insurrection. Pilate asked what they would have him to do with Jesus and they demanded, “Crucify him”. Pilate’s wife had seen Jesus in a dream earlier that day and she forewarned Pilate to “have nothing to do with the righteous man”. Pilate had Jesus flogged and then brought him out to the crowd to release him. The chief priests informed Pilate of a new charge, demanding Jesus be sentenced to death “because he claimed to be 4 God’s son”. This possibility filled Pilate with fear and he brought Jesus back inside the palace and demanded to know from where he came. Coming before the crowd one last time, Pilate declared Jesus innocent and washed his own hands in water to show he had no part in this condemnation. Nevertheless, Pilate handed Jesus over to be crucified in order to forestall a riot and ultimately keep his job. The sentence written was “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews”. Jesus carried his cross to the site of execution (assisted by Simon of Cyrenne), called the ‘place of Skull’ or ‘Golgotha’ in Hebrew and in Latin ‘Cavalry’. There he was crucified along with two criminals. Jesus agonized on the cross for six hours. During the last three hours on the cross, from noon to 3 PM, darkness fell over the whole land. Jesus spoke from the cross, quoting the messianic Pslam 22 : “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” With a loud cry, Jesus gave up his spirit. There was an earthquake, tombs broke open and the curtain in the temple was torn from top to bottom. The centurion on guard at the site of crucifixion declared, “Truly this was God’s Son”. Joseph of Arimathea, a member of the Sanhedrin, a secret follower of Jesus, who had not consented to his condemnation, went to Pilate to request the body of Jesus. Another secret follower of Jesus, who had not consented to his condemnation, went to Pilate to request the body of Jesus and member of the Sanhedrin named Nicodemus brought about a hundred-pound weight mixture of spices and helped to wrap the body of Jesus. Pilate asked confirmation from the centurion of whether Jesus was dead. A soldier pierced the side of Jesus with a lance causing blood and water to flow out and the centurion informed Pilate that Jesus was dead. Joseph of Arimathea took Jesus’ body, wrapped it in a clean linen shroud and placed it in his own new tomb that had been carved in the rock in a garden near the site of the crucifixion. Nicodemus also 5 brought 75 pounds of myrrh and aloes and placed them in the linen with the body, in keeping with Jewish burial customs. They rolled a large rock over the entrance of the tomb. Then they returned home and rested, because Shabbat had begun at sunset. Matt. 28:1 – “After the Shabbat, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalence and the other Mary went to look at the tomb” i.e. “After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week...”. “He is not here; he has risen, just as he said...” (Matt. 28:6). Around 3PM in the afternoon, all gather for the Vespers of the TakingDown from the Cross. The Gospel reading is a concatenation taken from all four of the Gospels. During the service, the body of Christ (the soma) is removed from the cross, as the words in the Gospel reading mention Joseph of Arimathea, wrapped in a linen shroud and taken to the altar in a sanctuary. Near to the end of the service an epitaphios or ‘winding sheet’ (a cloth embroidered with the image of Christ prepared for burial) is carried in procession to a low table in the nave which represents the Tomb of Christ; it is often decorated with an abundance of flowers. The epitaphios itself represents the body of Jesus wrapped in a burial shroud and is roughly a full-size cloth icon of the body of Christ. Then the priest may deliver a homily and everyone comes forward to venerate the epitaphios. In the Slavic practice, at the end of Vespers, Compline is immediately served, featuring a special Canon of the Crucifixion of our Lord and the Lamentation of the Most Holy Theotokos by Symeaon, the Logothete. The actual message of Good Friday is not that – “Jesus died on the cross and here’s what it means for us when we die”; the real lesson is – “Jesus died on the cross and here’s what it means for us right here and right now”. It is true that Jesus takes on the cross on this holy day 6 every year to destroy all the crosses of every generations. Again, according to Bible, the son of God was flogged, ordered to carry the cross on which He would be crucified and then put to death. Overall, the importance of Good Friday for Christianity is summed up with exacting brevity in the second article of the Apostles’ Creed – “Jesus Christ suffered under Pontius Pilate was crucified, dead and was buried” (Traditional English version) - on dividing into four elements, these ten words capture the vital core of Good Friday by affirming the reality of Jesus’ suffering, situating it in historical context by connection with a political figure, verifying the cause–mannercertainty of death and asserting Jesus’ burial (which is relevant primarily for resurrection claims presupposing the crucifixion). **********************************************

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